Sunday, April 28, 2013

Flood Thoughts

Being just home from a week on the road, it's hard to not think about the rain that's pounding on my tin office roof and how thankful I am that Nathaniel and I were able to get in as much good fishing as we did. Apparently, the area we fished in Tennessee (under blue skies for two days) has had rain every day since we left, including absolute downpours last night, and  the gravel bars we walked on in Arkansas' Buffalo  River were majorly flooded only a day later. Meanwhile we somehow dodged the heaviest of Georgia's rains as we drove home today. And the Mississippi, where we began our fishing adventure, is high and red right now.

The Bassmaster Elite Series pros fish West Point on the Georgia/Alabama border this week, and apparently it was storming, with heavy rains and even big hail as the pros arrived in town today. They'll be fishing flood patterns and dirty waters, I suppose. Most Georgia waters run pretty red when the rain falls hard, so that has a big impact on how the fish behave.

Sometimes flood waters wash out a trip. For example, floating the Buffalo would have been dangerous after the big rains came. Some lakes simply get too muddy for the fish to find their food or the current in a river gets so strong that the fish just move into survival mode for a day or two.

Often, though, flooding creates opportunities (as any extreme condition can) because it washes food into rivers into rivers and lakes, causes fish to position themselves predictably in obvious eddies, tight to cover, or in the clearest water they can find. Sometimes it just makes them more aggressive.

The key is to consider the conditions that the weather has brought and fish accordingly. Unexpected flooding might mean searching shallower, using bigger and noisier lures and keeping lures much closer to cover. It also might mean doing a lot of looking to find little pockets where the water color is better.  Find those, and you've found something special. It'll be interesting to see how that kind of stuff plays out on West Point this week.

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